Zuko: Uncle, you don't have to say it.
Iroh: ...I think of you as my own.
A character tells another that they're like a son or daughter to them, possibly even "the son I never had."
A character would absolutely kill to hear this from their "Well Done, Son!" Guy, if they've got one.
Compare Parental Substitute and Happily Adopted for situations where this could occur and A Father to His Men for military examples. See also Like Brother and Sister. Also Why Are You Not My Son?, where a character has actual offspring or relatives they dislike, and compare them with someone that's Like a Son to Them.
- In Naruto, the titular character has two specific relationships invoking this trope.
- The first is with his Academy instructor, Iruka Umino, who openly states that Naruto is like a little brother to him and becomes a Parental Substitute to Naruto in the first episode of the series. It's this influence in Naruto's life that has kept him from becoming a psychotic killer like, for example, Gaara. By the end of the anime series, Iruka is fully acknowledged as Naruto's father figure.
- The second is Jiraiya, who often treated Naruto like a grandson. This relationship is later confirmed after Jiraiya's death by Iruka, who tells Naruto that Jiraiya was always bragging about him and had mentioned multiple times that he thought of Naruto as a grandson.
- Of course, the more revelations about the backstory come about, the more Fridge Logic has the fans going, 'wait...Jiraiya was like a father to Naruto's dad, Naruto's official godfather, and is responsible for his name, and never appeared in his whole childhood?' 'Seriously, Naruto's dad took care of Kakashi after he was orphaned and Kakashi didn't appear in Naruto's life until the Hokage made him?' Shinobi are bad at interpersonal responsibility. It seems to have something to do with a reaction to all those people dying.
- Tsunade is third and only mother figure to Naruto, though she didn't care much for him at first, Naruto reminded her of her little brother Nawaki and lover Dan Kato due to his Wide-Eyed Idealist nature and dream of becoming Hokage. After assisting her and Jiraiya in fighting Orochimaru (where she saved his life) Tsunade gives him the first Hoakage's necklace and a kiss on the forehead for good measure. Though she finds his reckless behavior troublesome, saying he has inherited Jiraiya's antics. But when the fourth Raikage doubts Naruto, Tsuande gives him her undying support and how proud she is of him. She also motherly to Sakura and has passed down all her teachings to her
- Kakashi is of course one as well, but was separated from his sensei's son due to the instance of the Third Hokage, Upon meeting Naruto when forming Team 7 he grew to like him, but found it easier to train Sasuke. After two arcs Kakashi, no longer held back in acting fatherly towards Naruto, often checking up on him in his apartment and making sure he was eating well. When Naruto learned his wind jutsu, Kakashi tried to give him a hug but Naruto only freaked out over his sensei being so weird. Towards the end of the series Kakashi tells how proud he is of Naruto especially in comparison to Sasuke.
- Kakashi is also a father figure for Sakura, especially considering her actual parents never appear outside filler.
- In Fushigi Yuugi, Tamahome's mentor Tokaki urges him to leave with Miaka and the Suzaku Seishi as the building they're in begins to collapse, all the while telling him to take care and that he cares for his protegee like a son. As in most other cases, Tamahome's father was already dead when Tokaki said this, but what's touching is when Tamahome then calls Tokaki "father".
- Lone Wolf and Cub: The very last panel of the series is of a fatally wounded Retsudo Yagyu declaring the recently orphaned Daigoro his "grandson of the heart".
- Madame Red, Ciel's maternal aunt, in Black Butler thinks of him like one. This would save his life and cost Madame Red her life.
- A rather strange example in Skip Beat! occurs when the main character, Kyouko, is given an "assignment" to improve her characterization technique by a famous actor that she's been tasked to help during his stay in Japan. She has to act the part of his son for a day or two, and by the end of the exercise they have bonded and he tells Kyoko that she can keep calling him "father."
- In Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic the Magi Scheherazade feels this way towards her subordinate, a young magician named Titus Alexius, who also feels the same way, saying that he considers her his mother. Given that Titus is her clone, one could say that they are indeed parent and child.
- Dragon Ball:
- Dragon Ball: The Muten Roshi at his best non-perverted moments is like a grandfather to the Turtle Hermit's School, especially to Goku.
- In the Dragon Ball Z anime, during the Beam-O-War between Gohan and Cell, Piccolo says that Gohan is a like a son to him.
- Future Trunks saw future Gohan in this light due to Vegeta getting killed off in the Bad Future, Trunks loved Gohan enough that his death at hands of No. 17 and No. 18 is what pushes him into becoming Super Saiyan in one of the biggest Tear Jerker moments in the series. Trunks is amazed to see Gohan alive in the present time, though he says nothing to about his bond with Gohan. Present Gohan is a big brother figure to kid Trunks too.
- Uub sees Goku in this light in Dragon Ball GT; Goku even gives him the Flying Nimbus at the end of manga.
- Bleach: In the Soul Society arc, Yamamoto tells Ukitake and Kyouraku they are like sons to him just to emphasise exactly why he's he's not simply going to whip their hides for betraying him but will instead obliterate them off the face of the earth.
- One Piece there are loads
Hililuk: In a few moments, a monster will arrive here. He's my son. Please, don't hurt him.
- Shanks is the big one for Luffy, not only inspiring Luffy to become a pirate but sacrificed his arm to save Luffy from a sea king and gave him his strawhat and told Luffy to give it back to him once he had made as pirate. When asked by Whitebeard how he lost his arm, Shanks said simply he made a bet on the future, this connection caused Luffy's marine grandfather to bear a grudge against Shanks for "filling Luffy's head with poison". During the aftermath of Marineford, Shanks asks his old rival Buggy to give Luffy's hat back to him saying it isn't time to return it yet.
- Dr. Kureha never tells him directly, but bids Chopper farewell by saying, "Have a safe trip, my stupid son."
- In the same vein is Dr. Hililuk, the first human to befriend the misfit reindeer.
- Whitebeard calls his crewmembers and allies working under him as his sons. They in return also call him "Dad".
- Master Makarov of the Fairy Tail guild considers all of the guild members to be his children (and one of them is his actual grandson). In one chapter, when Erza Scarlet is having a near-death experience and seeing the world as if she has died, he specifically mentions loving her like a daughter.
- This is the implied relationship between Izumi Curtis and the Elric brothers in Fullmetal Alchemist. It's especially poignant because their mother's death was their motivation into becoming alchemists (and subsequently, learning under Izumi), and Izumi's only child died at birth.
- Tokyo Ghoul gives us a particularly heartbreaking example in the final chapter. After Shinohara is left comatose with little hope of recovery, his wife finds Juuzou sitting at his bedside. While talking, she reassures him that her husband loved him like his own child. After she leaves the room, Juuzou promises to work hard for Shinohara's sake and tenderly kisses his forehead, showing that the former Psychopathic Manchild has finally learned how to care about others.
- Hiroko, Saki's best friend to Kousei, Saki's son, in Your Lie in April. Even though she doesn't make an appearance until The Stinger in episode 10, she's been established as something like Kousei's second mother and even refers to him as her son.
- Played for Laughs in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War. Even though they're the same age Fujiwara refers to Shirogane as her son because she helped him with sports and music.
Fujiwara: I raised that boy.
- In the English dub of Yu-Gi-Oh!, during the anime-only Virtual Nightmare Arc, the Virtual Ghost of Seto Kaiba's abusive adoptive father Gozaburo angrily tells Kaiba he treated him better than his own son.
Kaiba: "Thanks. For nothing."
- In Overlord, Ainz eventually admits to thinking of Pandora's Actor as his own son, even giving him permission to call him "father" (albeit in private, so as not publicly give him special treatment).
- In My Hero Academia: The Two Heroes, Midoriya asks if it's alright for him to use All Might's guest invitation to I-Island, as it's supposed to be reserved for someone extremely close like family. All Might assures him that through One For All, their bond is thicker than blood.
- In Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Kobayashi develops this kind of relationship with Kanna in spite of being centuries younger than the diminutive girl dragon. In formal terms, she's Kanna's legal guardian, and to simplify things, she's Kanna's mom to their friends and acquaintances.
- Kalinin views Sousuke in this light in Full Metal Panic!. He even had plans to formally adopt him before he was driven to defect from the USSR. Even his betrayal of Mithril and Sousuke turn out to be rooted in parental love—Leonard's plan would have allowed Kalinin to Give Him a Normal Life.
- Alfred may officially be Bruce Wayne's butler, but he was always more of a surrogate father to him after Thomas and Martha's untimely deaths. When Superman asked him if he was all right after Bruce's apparent death in Final Crisis, he answered "No, I am not all right. My son has died."
- It's similarly inverted: in the same series, Alfred finds a video will that Bruce made for him. In it, Bruce remarks that Alfred isn't like a father to him—he is his father.
- Bruce himself treats the various Robins like this.
- Barry Allen considers Kid Flash and later the third Flash Wally West as his own son. The two are quite open about this, with Barry referring to Wally as his son frequently, to the point that his own kids were somewhat jealous of Wally. Barry even gave Wally his father's family watch as a high school graduation present to signify this. It became a key point in DC Rebirth, where thanks to their strong bond bypassing even reality altering powers, Barry was able to bring Wally back into world from Speed Force.
- The Ancient One refers to his disciple Doctor Strange as "the one I am pleased to call son" or simply "my son."
- Inspector Bloch really cares about Dylan Dog. Even more than about his own family, as it was shown in "200".
- In a He-Man and the Masters of the Universe comic, when Orko is taken over by the Hate Stones, Man-at-Arms tells him that he thinks of Orko as a son.
- Apparently Norman Osborn thinks Peter Parker makes a better son than Harry.
- In the Ultimate Six comic mini-series, the group (only five at the moment) break out of a SHIELD prison and Osborn says they need to look for 'his boy.' When Otto Octavius asks where Harry is being kept, Osborn's response is: "What are you talking about? My boy's name is Peter."
- The title character and Supergirl (at least the pre- and post-crisis Kara Zor El, and Linda Danvers...it's confusing..) have this kind of relationship, which is fairly reasonable, since he's her much-older cousin.
- When Superboy died in Infinite Crisis, an in-universe newspaper quoted Superman as saying he "felt like he lost a son".
- Perry White on a few occasions has stated Lois Lane was like a daughter to him. He even sat along side her parents at Lois and Clark's wedding.
- In The Death of Clark Kent, Martha Kent says Lois was "like a daughter to [her]" when lamenting her apparent death.
- Jonathan Kent similarly said the same about both Lois and Lana Lang in The Death of Superman.
- In MAD, there are a few cases of this, but given the tone of the magazine, it's often parodied or deconstructed by way of the magazine often showing the darker side of parenting.
"Nicky": I've always treated you like a Father would!"Rockhead": What? You t'row my stuff in the street... you yell at me in front of everyone... you make me feel like a stupid useless little kid!"Nicky": See! I told you I treat you like a Father would!
- In the "NYPD Blue" parody, one character says that his boss was like a father to him, but it's pointed out that the speaker was abused as a child.
- Nicky and Rockhead in the "Rocky" parody.
- Persepolis: During Marjane's last visit to Uncle Anoosh a few days before his execution, he says that he would like to have had a daughter like her.
- In the newspaper-comic Drabble, Norm makes his father a sundae, prompted this exchange:
Ralph: Wow, thanks, Norm! You're like a son to me!Norm: Dad, I am your son!Ralph: *clearly not paying attention, focused on eating* Oh, yeah huh.
- Garfield once encountered this in a week-long strip series, when a newborn chick imprints on him and calls him "Daddy." After daily jokes (such as the chick refusing to eat Italian food, and Garfield saying "NO SON OF MINE WOULD REFUSE LASAGNA!"), the fat cat sends the little bird away. The chick sadly says "Goodbye, Daddy"...and Garfield sheds a tear.
- It's heavily implied that Jon loves Garfield and Odie as if they were his children (especially considering he doesn't have any of his own). In a lengthy arc, he's so distraught at the thought of losing them that he travels to a pet shop to try to adopt new animals.
- Similarly, Garfield tends to treat Pooky, his teddy bear, as his baby. In early strips, he would panic whenever Pooky was "hurt" (an arm falling off, being unstuffed, etc.) and demand that Jon fix him right away.
- Back to the Future fanfic may portray Doc as thinking this way about Marty.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- In many stories, Princess Celestia and Twilight Sparkle are often portrayed as having a mother/daughter relationship. An alternate example would be when Twilight and Spike (whom she did technically hatch) have a mother/son relationship. Notable Examples: (All of which can be found on FIMFiction.net)
- RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse: Fittingly considering who has their roles in canon, this is Trixie and Princess Luna's relationship. Albeit in the dysfunctional rebellious teenager wanting space sort of way.
- Do to shows ambiguity over their relationship, Spike the Dragon is often treated as like a son to Twilight.
- As in the game Dragon Age: Origins, Alistair and Wynne develop this relationship in "Shadow and Rose," and Elissa develops a gender-flipped one with Oghren.
- Code Geass Megiddo: During the eight years in which Lelouch had his memories suppressed, he developed this relationship with his mentor, the Knight of One, Bismarck Waldstein. After regaining his memories, he confides to Kallen that he will deeply regret the day they have to face off in battle, considering him to be the father he never had.
- Webwork: While on her deathbed, the Jorogumo Queen admits that she sees in Jade everything she could have ever wanted in a daughter.
- In Catch Your Breath, Miyako Gekko feels like this towards Obito, and Obito reciprocates. Yamaguchi-sensei also feels like this towards Rin, and later adopts her.
- In XCOM:RWBY Within, Zhang tells an Ethereal that he views Ruby this way, right before shooting it several times for causing her pain and mocking her.
- While not directly said, The Bridge more or less has it implied Godzilla Junior sees his student Mariner Moon as a daughter he never got to have. She returns the sentiment given her parents are far away and unable to visit.
- In The Heart Trilogy, Elrond has this kind of a relationship with Kathryn.
- Xander in Love You to the Moon and Back calls his Slayer Safira the "daughter of [his] heart and soul, even if not [his] flesh", despite only maybe a decade older than her.
- The Stargate SG-1 fanfic series What You Already Know features a few of there;
- Bra'tac explicitly states "a man can owe no greater debt than to the one who saves his son's life" when thanking Daniel for saving Teal'c from an almost-certainly fatal head wound using his new healing abilities.
- In her capacity as the closest thing Daniel has to a living parental figure on Earth, Catherine Langford expresses mock anger that Daniel didnt tell her about his new relationship with Sam when shes invited to the ceremony for him to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
- Selmak admits as hes dying that he has come to consider Sam to be like a daughter to him as well as her being the daughter of his host; Selmak explicitly tells Sam that, if he had been human and had children, he cant think of anyone hed rather have had as a daughter than her, and notes to Daniel that one of the regrets he has about dying now is that he wont have the chance to see the grandchildren Daniel and Sam will give Jacob.
- In The Land of What Might-Have-Been, although Elphaba won't say it explicitly, she eventually finds herself acting almost maternally to Dorothy after they spent a few days alone together and talked through their past issues with each other.
- In Avengers of the Ring, Gandalf is shown musing that his bond with Thor reminds him of what he has seen of the bond between a father and a son even though he has never thought about having children himself due to his nature, to the extent that he actually calls Thor son during the final battle in front of the Black Gate, with Thors thoughts making it clear that he reciprocates the sentiment.
- Three Can Keep A Secret: Stanford's extremely warm and supportive attitude towards Dipper, great pride in the boy's personal growth and desire for Dipper to inherit everything of his always heavily implied this attitude, but it was finally confirmed in the sequel fic: While on a magic induced Mushroom Samba that is spawning frightening omens of the future, Stanford vows to protect Dipper, calls out his real name and uses the phrase "my son" in reference to him. By all indications, Dipper seems to reciprocate.
- Son of the Sannin:
- This is Tsunade (and Jiraiya's) view of Shizune, in contrast to the aunt/niece relationship they had in canon, though it takes until the Sound invasion for Tsunade to realize it. Post-Time Skip chapters also have Tsunade refer to Shizune's kids as her grandchildren.
- Zabuza thinks of Haku as a son, not that he'd ever say it out loud. He tries to put up a tough front, but it doesn't fool anyone, least of all Haku.
- SAPR: Sienna Khan thinks this of Blake, and is reluctant to kill her as a result.
- In Any Given Sunday, Tony says to Rooney, "You're like a son to me, Cap, I'd fight for you till the day I die."
- Carbon Copy
Nelson Longhurst: Walter, you were like a son to me. But as you well know, having a son can turn out to be a bitter disappointment.
- In Epic, it's implied Ronin might be growing to see Nod this way, but their mutual stubbornness gets in the way. It's reinforced by the fact that Nod's father was good friends with Ronin.
- Joshua Tree
Lt. Franklin L. Severence: I never said Santee was a friend. I said he was like a son to me.
- In Jurassic World and its sequel, it's pretty clear that Owen views the highly intelligent and pack-oriented Velociraptors as being like surrogate daughters to him. This especially applies to Blue, who goes through absolute hell to protect him from the Indominus rex and then later the Indoraptor.
- Kill Bill Vol 2
Esteban Vihaio: Bill is like a son to me.
- King Arthur: Saxon war chief Cerdic makes a comment like this to one of his soldiers after he cut and demoted the former Dragon, who was his actual son.
Cerdic: Raewald. You're second-in-charge now. Yeah, you're like a son to me.
- In the Tower of Terror movie, this was the relationship between Sally Shine and Emmeline Partriage, her nanny. Partriage is shocked when Anna accuses her otherwise.
- Subverted in The Maltese Falcon. When Sam Spade suggests using Wilmer as a fall guy, the Fat Man refuses, using this trope word-for-word. Then, when Spade explains why they need a fall guy...
- In Star Wars, the Jedi are forbidden to have families, but often the members of a Master-Apprentice Chain become close enough to be regarded as the children they can never have, or the parents they never knew. It's never outright stated in the films, but the Expanded Universe often expands on this dynamic. The closest instance of this trope in the films is an inverted example in Attack of the Clones, although Obi-Wan and Anakin's relationship slowly evolves into that of two brothers.
Anakin: "Don't say that, Master; you're the closest thing I have to a father."
- In Secrets & Lies, Maurice and Monica treat their niece Roxanne as a surrogate daughter partly as compensation for not having any children of their own, despite their independently rather difficult relationships with her mother, Cynthia.
- Combined with Why Are You Not My Son? in The Thin Red Line, when Lt Colonel Tall is speaking to his Sergeant Rock.
Tall: You feel like a son to me, John. [beat] You know what my son does? He's a bait salesman.
- Near the end of Mystic Pizza, Leona uses this as a rationale for why she gives Kat the money to go to Yale.
Leona: I always meant to give this to my kids. You, Daisy, Jojo; you're my kids.
- In Kings Row, kindly Dr. Tower tells Parris, his medical student, that "If I had a son, I'd want him to be as nearly like you as possible."
- What Happens in Vegas
Jack Fuller Sr.: You're like a son to me.
Jack Fuller: Dad, I am your son.
- In Sgt. Bilko:
- Bilko:(lovingly spoken) Ah, Doberman. The son I never wanted.
- Storks: Hunter says that Junior becoming boss will make him like a son to him, even describing him as a "sonployee". This doesn't stop him from dropping Junior like a hot rock when he finds out that Junior accidentally made a baby.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: It becomes apparent that Yondu really considered Peter Quill to be his son. He even tells Peter that he was more his father than his biological one was.
Yondu: He may have been your father, boy, but he wasn't your daddy.
- Spider-Man: Homecoming and Avengers: Infinity War: Tony Stark views Peter Parker as this and whenever he berates him, it is because he is worried sick about losing him one day, while Peter looks up to Tony as a father figure who mentors him in the way of a superhero. While the words are never outright spoken, we finally get it in non-verbal form with not one, but two Final First Hugs, as Tony is a very emotionally-withdrawn person who only shows physical affection to his family - one in Avengers: Infinity War, when Peter is one of the victims of Thanos' universe-wide culling and dies crying and afraid in Tony's arms, and then another one, this time for good, in Avengers: Endgame. After Peter and the other victims are brought back to life, Tony finally gives him a real, fatherly embrace before dying in a Heroic Sacrifice to save him and the rest of the universe. As if to drive the point home, Tony almost refuses to go on the mission to resurrect the victims in the first place, fearful that messing with space and time in order to do so will somehow affect the existence of his biological daughter, but after some reconsideration, the straw that breaks the camel's back is remembering and looking at a photograph of Peter.
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: It becomes apparent that Yondu really considered Peter Quill to be his son. He even tells Peter that he was more his father than his biological one was.
- Alk and Ilke are treaten like they're his children by Sha-ra who'll protect no matter what in Phenomena.
- Harry Potter
Molly: ...and speaking as someone who has got Harry's best interests at heart—
- Molly refers to Harry (her youngest son's best friend) this way. And he actually becomes her son-in-law.
Sirius: (quietly) He's not your son.
Molly: (fiercely) He's as good as! Who else has he got?
- It's all but explicitly stated that Dumbledore sees Harry as a son / grandson. This causes a lot of angst on Dumbledore's part, given he knows Harry is prophesied to fight Voldemort to the death. And that's without getting into Dumbledore's own family history. He spends most of book five keeping Harry at arm's length as a result, with disastrous results.
- In The Dark Tower, Roland feels this way about Jake.
- In Jasper Fforde's Well of Lost Plots, Bradshaw is surprised by the news about Vern because he was — this trope.
- Although it never actually gets said, Halt from Ranger's Apprentice thinks of Will this way.
- Brotherband: Thorn serves as a mentor to the entire Brotherband, so on some level he has eight sons and a daughter. However, his relationship to Hal leans closest to a father/son bond. This fits given that Thorn's best friend, who was also Hal's father, asked him on his deathbed to look after his son. After his recovery from a years-long Heroic BSoD, Thorn takes up the role in earnest, helping shape Hal into a capable leader and warrior and ferociously protecting him on the occasions he gets in over his head. He even refers to Hal as "my boy" when attacking a pirate captain who had almost killed him out of spite.
- In Teresa Frohock's Miserere: An Autumn Tale, in the Back Story, John said, "You were my son" to Lucian before Lucian was dragged off for his crimes.
- In Mistborn: The Original Trilogy, Though these exact words are never spoken, Vin and Kelsier build up this type of relationship. In the end of the first book Kelsier's note implies that he thought of her as a daughter. It is stated more explicitly in Mistborn: Secret History in which Kelsier not only wishes he'd been there for her when she had needed parents, but a few lines later refers to her as 'the daughter he never had'. He never says it in direct speech, but the story is narrated from his point of view.
- In the Warrior Cats series, Yellowfang tells Fireheart that he was like this to her - that he's more like her son than the cat she gave birth to, Brokentail.
- In Dan Abnett's Ravenor vs. Eisenhorn novel Pariah, when Sister Bismillah tracks down Beta, she tells her she loved her like a daughter. After years of watching over her, she lost her in a night.
- Ditzy Lavinia Penniman in Washington Square once thinks to herself that if she'd been able to have children, she would have had a son very similar to Morris Townsend, the man she's trying to match her niece Catherine with. Despite this and his being orphaned at a young age, the feeling is not mutual—Morris can't stand to be around her and only humors her flightiness at best in order to get in good with Catherine's money.
- Played With in Animorphs. Rachel recalls an incident when her then-pregnant mother expresses hope the baby would be a boy, since the family already had two daughters and she knows Rachel's dad wanted a son to do stuff like going to baseball games with. Rachel's father says he doesn't mind either way, since Rachel is as tough as a boy and he has plenty of fun doing that stuff with her. She's touched by that.
- Although he doesn't ever voice the notion, in at least one of the The Cat Who stories, Qwilleran thinks that if he'd ever had a son, he would have liked him to be like Junior Goodwinter. He also mentally describes his feelings for Elizabeth Hart as such as he would have for a goddaughter or niece, having once saved her life.
- Twilight: Carlisle feels this way about the members of his coven (with the obvious exception of his wife Esme), and especially towards Edward.
- In The Infernal Devices, it's almost as if Will, Jem, and Jessamine were Charlotte's own children, except, according to her, for the part where they were required to love her.
- in The Death Gate Cycle, Lord Xar often refers to his Dragon and protégé Haplo as "my son", and makes it plain that he feels a stronger bond with him than he did with his (presumed long-dead) biological children. Even as the series passes and Haplo becomes increasingly heroic while Xar becomes increasingly villainous, neither character is quite able to shake their connection and, fittingly, in the end Haplo is the only one who can convince Xar that he's become a tool of evil forces snap him out of it.
- In Wolf Hall, Thomas Cromwell is a serial father. He loves his ward Rafe Sadler and frequently thinks of him as a son; they're closer than Cromwell is with his own son—whom he also loves, but Gregory is usually away and Rafe is more alike in thought to Cromwell. His nephew Richard Williams says that Cromwell is now his father after his own passes away and takes Cromwell's name, and when Cromwell's sister passes he takes her daughters into his household and acts as a father to them too.
- Virgil of The Divine Comedy begins to address the Author Avatar, Dante, as "my son" by the time they reach Inferno's fire-blood lake. The address fits, since Virgil has to hold Dante's hand like a possessive father while guiding him through lust-tornadoes, suicide-forests, and less mundane challenges. By Purgatorio, Dante returns the sentiment as he begins to address Virgil as "father," right up until Virgil has to return to Hell while Dante goes to meet God.
- In The Three Musketeers and its sequels, Athos sometimes calls D'Artagnan "my son" in moments of great affection, even after he has a real son.
- Tunstall tells this to Beka in the third Beka Cooper book. In the first book, he did say that he'd wanted a Puppy for years and it was only Goodwin's reluctance that prevented it, but the moment is ruined by the fact that he's just betrayed Beka and is trying to kill her.
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: An untrustworthy slaver boasts that he will treat his latest set of captives — including Lucy, Edmund, Eustace Scrubb, and the young King Caspian — as though they were his own children. Lord Bern sarcastically replies, "That's likely enough to be true."
- Artemis Fowl: Artemis creates an AI and sells it to crooked businessman Jon Spiro. Later, Spiro notes it's like the brother he never had. A henchman confusedly says he thought Spiro did have a brother, so Spiro amends it to "a brother I actually like".
- In Wyrd Sisters, actor-manager Vitolier, many years after taking the playwright Hwel into his troupe, comments the dwarf has been like a son to him. Hwel points out he's substantially older than his mentor, and Vitolier amends it to "like a father".
- In The Saga of Darren Shan, Darren developes this with his mentor Larten Crepsley, in book 7 even thinking to himself that the two share a father-son type bond. It it very clear that Larten feels the same way. Once he learns of he has a nephew, Darren starts to act like a father figure to the boy.
- In the Demonata series, all of the main trio views Dervish Grady as parental figure. His nephew Grubbs even thinks he felt closer to Dervish then his actual parents, since he took them for granted. The two constantly bicker and other people in the series even remark they see one another as a father and a son, respectfully.
- Wayside School: In the Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger chapter "Flowers for a Very Special Person", Louis hands Mr. Kidswatter flowers while intending to give them to his crush Wendy Nogard. Mr. Kidswatter thanks him and says he always thought of Louis like a son. However, Louis doesn't like him very much, calling him a "maggot-infested string bean" under his breath.
- The A-Team. In "Lease With an Option to Die", the team meets B.A.'s mother. She loves Murdock and announces she wants to adopt him, to Murdock's utter delight and her son's (apparent) horror.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Restless"
Giles: Spike's like a son to me.
- To clarify, that was a zany dream. Spike is not like a son to Giles. Xander, however, is, and Willow and Buffy are like daughters.
- When everyone lost their memories in Tabula Rasa and started trying to reconstruct their relationships, Spike decided he was Giles' son while Giles seemed to think Spike must be his younger brother. It's only because they both speak with English accents, Giles looks a bit older (Spike is actually a century older than him!) and they feel an instinctive resentment toward each other.
- Dickish Head of the Watchers Council Quentin Travers is the first person to say what Giles has been too shy to tell Buffy himself: "[Giles has] a father's love for the child". Quentin means it in a dismissive way, but it clearly means the world to Buffy to hear this when she's been dropping hints to Giles about wanting him to hang out with her socially now that she's realizing her real dad is no longer making an effort to see her, even on her birthday. Throughout the series Buffy is more comfortable with telling Giles how she feels ("Giles, I love you]]", "I want you to give me away [at her spell-induced wedding...but the sentiment about Giles is genuine]") while Giles - in his British repressed way - is more likely to take a roundabout way ("You're everything a Watcher-everything I could have hoped for", "Wish I could play the father/And take you by the hand") or express his love through gestures like helping out when her mother gets sick, paying her bills, verbally and physically defending her from men she can't slay, culminating in his attempt to help her fly out of the nest by going back to England. It kind of works and it kind of doesn't, and they both have regrets about it, but reunite as a team and a family in time for the series finale.
- While never explicitly said, the relationship between the Mayor and his Dragon Faith definitely has the same father/daughter connotations, including a Villainous Breakdown of Papa Wolf proportions after Buffy put her in a coma.
- To clarify, that was a zany dream. Spike is not like a son to Giles. Xander, however, is, and Willow and Buffy are like daughters.
- Game of Thrones:
- Jon Snow to Jeor Mormont, whose own son Jorah disgraced their family.
- Jon Snow is actually Ned Stark's nephew by his sister Lyanna and Ned raised Jon as his own son.
- Shireen Baratheon to Davos Seaworth, in the "like a daughter to me" version. Davos outright says this when he finds out that Melisandre killed Shireen by burning her alive, promising that he will kill Melisandre himself if he ever sees her again.
- Neal and Peter on White Collar. Oddly, Mozzie is the first person to point out the father-son relationship between Peter and Neal. In the third season episode Upper West Side Story, Peter is posing as a man enrolling his son in a prep school as part of an undercover assignment. Someone at the school asks Peter about his son. Peter doesn't have a biological son, so he describes Neal instead.
"He's very intelligent, but impulsive. His moves tend to land him in trouble... Well, I wanna give him the best shot at life. I know it's gonna cost me."
- Doctor Who:
The Master: (to the Doctor) Oh, your dad's still kicking up a fuss.Wilfred Mott: No, but I'd be proud if I was.
- "The End of Time Part 2" has a variation.
"I'd be proud...if you were my dad."
- The Doctor, despite being Wilf's senior by several centuries, returns the sentiment.
- In "the TV Movie," the Master claims Chang Lee is "the son I've always yearned for." The Doctor is not convinced ("Oh, please.") — and moments later, the Master snaps Lee's neck.
- Sarah and Maria in The Sarah Jane Adventures. At the end of "The Last Sontaran", Maria is leaving. Sarah Jane tells her she's losing the daughter she had always wanted. *sob*
- Shadowhunters Magnus has raised many downworlders in his long lifetime. He says this to Raphael, whom he has always taken care of, calling him son.
- Supernatural: Even though he doesn't say it out loud, its obvious that Bobby loves Dean and Sam like they were his sons. He even tells Dean in the season 3 finale that, "Family don't end with blood."
Bobby: I adopted two boys, and they grew up great. They grew up heroes.
- In a seventh-season episode, as he lies dying, Bobby tells the memory of his abusive father that he adopted two sons, referring to Sam and Dean.
- Bobby also seems to think of Castiel as a son as well as Sam and Dean, despite the fact that Cas is millennia older than he is.
- Mary also apparently regards Cas as one of "her boys", along with Sam and Dean.
- Married... with Children: On several occasions Al Bundy spoke to/of someone as "the son [he] never had" -at least once in front of Bud.
- In Colonel Blake's farewell episode of Mash, he exchanges gifts with Radar and tells him, "You're like a son to me." What makes this even more adorable is that at the exact same time, Radar says, "Sometimes I felt like you were my father." It makes Radar's devastation in the final scene, where he informs the rest of the cast of Colonel Blake's death, that much more gut-wrenching.
- All but actually said in The West Wing with President Bartlet and Charlie, especially when President Bartlet passes on to Charlie his family knife that has been given from father to son.
President Bartlet: He loved you like a son. You know that, right?
- He also refers to Josh as his son in "Two Cathedrals".
- Josh tells CJ that Bartlet thinks of her as a daughter.
- Josh also has this kind of relationship with Leo, who is an old friend of his father's.
Frank Burnett: I figured out early on that I could never live up to your father in your eyes. I wasn't a Blue Angel. Hell, I never even wore a uniform.Harmon Rabb, Jr.: Frank.Frank Burnett: But although you never thought about me as your father, you're the only son I ever had.
- Harm's stepfather Frank Burnett tells him this when he visits his mother in "To Russia with Love":
- From "Desert Son": General Williams to Lt. Boone, the only friend of the careless Lt. Williams that he approves of.
- Implied with Martin and Daphne on Frasier, especially when Martin becomes lonely when Daphne moves in with Niles and tries to get Daphne to promise to visit more often by using the fact that Eddie will miss her as a transparent excuse. Also given a Sibling Rivalry-like turn when Daphne gets jealous of Frasier's new girlfriend Claire, because Claire and Martin dote on each other and Martin clearly wants Frasier to marry her and make her Martin's daughter-in-law.
Martin: Her laugh's just like music, isn't it?Daphne (wistfully): You used to think my laugh was musical... Remember, Marty?Martin: Yeah, but I'm used to it now.
- Larry Sizemore calls Michael Westen this in Burn Notice. Subverting the usual associations of this trope, it is not a heartwarming moment- Larry is a former Evil Mentor and Michael has daddy issues.
- In the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, Admiral Adama has repeatedly told Kara "Starbuck" Thrace that she is like a daughter to him.
- In Law & Order: UK, this is clearly how DS Ronnie Brooks feels about his partner Matt Devlin (no wonder, given that he royally screwed up raising his actual daughters, thanks to being a drunk). He outright says this while talking with the mother of the man who killed him. "The police officer who died? His name was Matthew Devlin and he was like MY son."
- Gaius and Merlin (2008):
Gaius: Merlin, you're like a son to me. I never expected such a blessing so late in life.Merlin: And you are more than a father to me.
- When Rizzoli & Isles have a seemingly-insurmountable split, Jane's mother Angela tells Maura "You're like a daughter to me too."
- Melissa McCall is a substitute mother to her son Scott's best friend Stiles, whose mother passed away when he was very young. This is especially exemplified in season three when Stiles begins to show the same symptoms as his mother did just before her death. Melissa takes care of him, leading to the following:
Stiles: Thanks, Mom.
Melissa: He's got us.
- She seems to have become this to Isaac, as well. When Isaac ends up in the hospital after being electrocuted, Allison is not allowed in to see him, despite her telling the staff that he doesn't have any family.
- Voyagers!: After a little while of time-traveling together, Phineas Bogg comes to see Jeff as being like his son (he actually says to another character during "Bully and Billy" that Jeff isn't his son, but he wishes he could say he was). While they don't quite have an average father/son relationship, he does try to teach and protect him.
- During the intro to the 1991 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, when Katie Couric entered the scene aided by a magician's box, her cohost Willard Scott jokingly referred to her as "the son [he] always wanted." See it here.
- Funnily enough inverted on Roseanne. After a rather uncomfortable discussion involving sexual dreams, David finally comes out and admits that he sees Roseanne, who adopted him, as more of a mother than his biological one. It's been clear for a while the feeling's mutual, and she's very touched by the affection.
David: Do... do you want me to start calling you Mom?Roseanne: No. (grins) I want me other kids to start calling me Mrs. Conner.
- Several in The Flash (2014), all by Dr Wells.
- He tells Cisco that, although he doesn't have children of his own, Cisco has shown him what it's like to have a son. Partly due to not being on the best of terms with his own family, Cisco shares the sentiment. Then Wells kills him, but does look genuinely distraught over it. Not like it sticks.
- He later tells Barry that he understands what Joe (Barry's foster dad) and Henry (Barry's actual dad) feel when they look on him with pride and love.
- In a somewhat tragic example, he refers to his former protege Hartley Rathaway as 'the Prodigal Son', suggesting that they also had this sort of relationship. Until, that is, Wells fired him because he realised something was going to go wrong with the particle accelerator.
- In the Season 4 finale of Flashpoint, Greg Parker says pretty much exactly this to Spike, albeit in Italian. It's even more poignant when you take into account that Spike's father had recently died and his mother had moved back to Italy, leaving him without a readily-available parental presence for the first time in his life...or so he thought.
- NUMB3RS: When Larry leaves on his sabbatical in Season 6, he leaves a large amount of his work scribbled on a wall with a note that translates to "All to son". Everyone immediately knows he's referring to Charlie.
- The Golden Girls: When Rose is hospitalized for an esophageal spasm, Sophia cracks jokes as they wait for word. When Dorothy blasts her for this, Sophia admits that she's trying to hide her fear—"If something happened to Rose, it would be like losing one of my own children." She repeats the claim that she loves Rose like a daughter when Rose has a heart attack. Even though she doesn't say it, she clearly feels this way about Blanche too.
- It culminates in the final episode when Sophia, who's planning to move away with a newly-married Dorothy, looks at a picture she's taken of Rose and Blanche and whispers "Good-bye, my girls..."
- Hook from Neverland is a unique example. He starts the series by portraying this trope towards Peter. He took him in after his mother died and he did everything he could to protect him. However, as you can guess, he subverts this in the end and wants to put an end to the boy he used to care about.
- In Horatio Hornblower, the title character arrives on Captain Pellew's ship with a bad reputation, but Pellew is satisfied with the result after testing his actions. From there he treats Hornblower as his protege, and his regard for the young officer grows to barely-concealed affection. The final telefilm has Pellew spelling it out in nearly explicit terms by saying to the newly-promoted Captain Hornblower "You know, Hornblower, it is very hard for a father to see his children grow up." (Hornblower, however, is a little oblivious in personal matters and it sails right over his head.)
- Daredevil (2015):
- Though never said out loud, it's pretty clear that Mitchell Ellison views Karen Page as one after he hires her on to fill Ben Urich's shoes.
- Despite trying to kill her on a few occasions when she goes rogue, Stick still has a soft spot for Elektra, more or less seeing her as his daughter. This ends up being his undoing in The Defenders (2017) as he hesitates when Elektra shows up to capture Danny Rand, giving her the opening to stab him to death.
- The Punisher (2017): Frank Castle's friendship with Karen Page stems from the fact that she reminds him heavily of his late daughter Lisa. He thinks of Karen as what Lisa would've been like if she'd grown to see adulthood rather than be cut down by a hit squad in the midst of an attempt to assassinate Frank.
- Iron Fist (2017): Harold Meachum acts at first like Danny is a better son to him than his actual son Ward, but it soon becomes clear that this is just an act.
- Subverted in the last episode of Blackadder Goes Forth, where General Melchett tells Kevin Darling that he's "like a son to him" - not a favorite son, though.
"Lord no, more a sort of illegitimate back-stair sort of sprog. Y'know, the sort of spotty squid that nobody really likes."
- Parodied in Arrested Development when GOB refers to his son as "the father I never had".
- From In Plain Sight as Rafael is moving in with the Shannons before marrying Mary
Brandi: So I guess I'm like the little sister you never had, huh?Rafael: I have three sisters. All little.
- Later deconstructed, impressively. One of the witnesses flips on his criminal buddies after they kill the "son he never had" . . . except the witness had a son, who he couldn't connect with or accept, and who was rightfully jealous of the son substitute. Their relationship is . . . messy.
- From a deleted scene from Flight of the Conchords:
Eddie: Bret, I like you. You're like a son to me. You remind me of my niece.
- On That '70s Show, Kelso wants to buy a great car from Leo. As they're about to make the final deal, however, Leo recalls that he had originally planned to give that car to his long-lost son and said that he couldn't bear to sell it, which Kelso can understand. Leo then immediately gives the car to Hyde, calling him the son he never had (as opposed to that long-lost son that he did have). Needless to say, Kelso was annoyed.
- In one episode of Wizards of Waverly Place between Max's conscience and his mom.
Theresa: "You're like the son I don't regret having!"Max: "Oh, she means Justin."
- In the Haven episode "Speak No Evil", Vince Teagues tried to claim Dwight Hendrickson was the son he never had, but Dwight was not impressed, and was annoyed by Vince keeping him Locked Out of the Loop on several of the town's secrets.
- In American Horror Story: Coven, Myrtle Snow, head of the Witches' Council, views Cordelia Goode as a daughter. Cordelia has similar feelings toward her, especially since her birth mother is Fiona, a Rich Bitch who only cares about herself—to the point where Cordelia's personal version of Hell is her begging for Fiona's approval and being cruelly abused by her. Myrtle and Cordelia's relationship makes Myrtle's death all the sadder: Myrtle arranges for her own burning at the stake to allow Cordelia's reign as the Coven's new Supreme to go as smoothly as possible. Among Myrtle's last words: "Delia...my sweet daughter...I've never been more proud...
- Shows up very early in The Nanny. Fran is calling Maggie, Brighton, and Grace "her kids" by the fifth episode, and her love for them is clearly more maternal than professional.
- It's later inverted with Mr. Sheffield and Sylvia, Fran's mother, later in the series, after Fran has finally married Maxwell. When Fran is briefly hospitalized, Max and Sylvia rush to the hospital together, and he does his best to calm her down, calling her "Mom." Sylvia notes that he's never done that before, and he explains that she's been a better, dearer mother to him than his birth mother ever was. It's especially surprising because Sylvia's behavior borders on invasive and annoying at times, particularly when she shows up to eat the Sheffields out of house and home.
- On Everybody Loves Raymond, Frank feels this way about Debra. In one episode, he tells her that he's always viewed his battles with Marie, Ray, and Robert as "me and you versus them." In another, upon discovering that his lodge brothers are treating Debra, who's been volunteering with them, as a piece of eye candy, he lets them have it: "This is Debra! She's not just some cheap floozy—she's like my own daughter!"
- Marie and Debra largely avert this trope, especially because the former is extremely doting and controlling toward Ray. However, it's occasionally hinted that Marie sees Debra fondly; for instance, she's arranged to leave all of her recipes to Debra in her will. As Marie is a Supreme Chef, that's quite a compliment.
- In Drake & Josh, Josh's boss, Helen, is really affectionate towards Drake. She at one point says she feels this way towards him.
Helen: Drake Parker, I love you like the son I never wanted.
- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Uncle Phil sees Will this way. Phil is heartbroken and falls into a depression when Will pulls a You Are Not My Father on him for trying to stop Will spending the summer with his deadbeat biological father, but still comforts Will when Lou (said deadbeat father) walks out on him again. In the series finale the family move out of the mansion and go their separate ways, Phil tells each of his kids to call him every Sunday and pointedly includes Will in that list.
Phil: You are my son, Will. End of story.
- Spin City: Mike and the Mayor gradually develop a relationship like this. In this case, the Mayor sees Mike as the father figure.
- Red vs. Blue
Sarge: Grif, if you see Lopez, tell him I forgive him. Tell him, he was like a son to me.
- Sarge uses this line in season two at one point.
Grif: I thought Simmons was like a son to you.
Sarge: No offense, Simmons. Lopez and I just understood each other better.
Simmons: Understood? He refused to speak English.
Grif: Yeah, and he ran away the first chance he got.
Simmons: And now he's trying to kill you with a remote control jeep.
Sarge: Ahhhh, what a little rascal.
- Later, in Season 14, Sarge and Boomstick start bonding and Sarge comments that Boomstick is like the son he never wanted. Boomstick feels Sarge is like the dad he never had since his real one ran away to join the military. Sarge puts two and two together and awkwardly leaves.
- Before Kris Statlander's match with her trainer "The Buzzkiller" Pat Buck at LW Hooked On A Friedman, he said that if he ever had a daughter, he'd want her to turn out like Kris. This was followed by an inversion of Turned Against Their Masters, since Buck told her to lie down for him. The match started with Kris on the mat and Buck went for the pin, but Kris countered with an inside cradle for two.
- In Big The Musical, MacMillian sings of Josh, "My god, he's like the son I never had!" Josh notices a picture on MacMillian's desk and asks, "Who's that?" "That's the son I had," MacMillian replies.
- In Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse, a talking baby cockroach hatches in front of Sam's eyes and thinks he is his "papa". Sam's response:
Sam: Now I am, little champion...NOW I AM!
- Played from an outside point of view in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, when Tyrell observes that King Paithos acts like an overprotective dad around his nephew Amiti, and even phrases it "he's like a son to you".
- Maleficent, of all people, says this to Riku in the first Kingdom Hearts I. He knows she's lying through her teeth, but is still convinced he can use her instead of the other way around.
- Eraqus' relationship with his students (particularly Terra) in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. In this case, it's the student who uses the word "father".
- In BioShock, the Big Bad Frank Fontaine reminisces on the circumstances of Jack's birth and sending him to the surface as he rides the elevator to the final showdown. He confesses that Jack wasn't just his "ace in the hole" but also the closest thing he ever had to a son.
- Wynne, in Dragon Age: Origins, develops this kind of relationship with Alistair, as revealed in party banter if you bring them both with you often enough. At one point she talks about her son, whom she hasn't seen since he was born (she and her child are both mages and The Corps Is Mother for mages of the Circle), and remarks that she would have liked him to be like Alistair. Turns out he isn't.
- Similarly, Oghren can develop a relationship like this with a Warden of either gender; if the Warden engages him in conversation a lot and treats him with the kindness and respect he's hardly received in recent years, there will come a very sweet piece of dialogue in which Oghren (who keeps his helmet on so you can't see him blushing) will tell the Warden that he sees him/her like family.
- Grand Theft Auto V has Michael de Santa and Franklin Clinton, two of the Main Characters. Whilst Michael sees Franklin as the son he never had, Franklin looks up to Michael as a father figure of sorts and a mentor in being a much better criminal.
- Zigzagged with Dutch van der Linde from GTA's sister series, Red Dead, mainly due to his Ambiguously Evil nature. He tells Arthur in a mission pretty early on in 2 that he's more than like a son to him but it's unclear if it's genuine or manipulation. His actions post-Sanity Slippage show he doesn't follow up on that talk. He also says this speaking in the past tense to John in 1 but at that point, Dutch is way too far gone to truly care about anyone but he very well could have actually felt that way in the past.
- Mortal Kombat X: Raiden mournfully expresses this sentiment towards Liu Kang and Kung Lao.
- The relationship Nathan Drake and Victor Sullivan share in the Uncharted series, which is fully explored in 3: Drake's Deception. Nate is actually not a descendant of Sir Francis Drake. Rather he's a kid who was given up for adoption by his father after his mother committed suicide and lived out his teenage years roaming the streets of Cartagena ("Nathan Drake" isn't his real name either). During that time he crossed paths with Katherine Marlowe and Sully, who was in her employ at the time. When things get more intense than Sully can agree with (mostly by virtue of having to save the teenage boy from being needlessly killed by Marlowe's goons), he opts out from her organization and becomes Nate's surrogate father in the process.
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild:
- Dorephan, King of the Zora, saw Link as a son back when they first knew each other a century ago, and he's understandably sad to find out the latter no longer remembers him. The fact that Dorephan's daughter Mipha had a Childhood Friend Romance with Link, which could have led to the Hylian being his son-in-law, is likely a major reason.
- The Champions' Ballad DLC revealed that Lady Urbosa was a close personal friend of Zelda's mother, and came to view Zelda as a daughter after the latter's death (even addressing Zelda with the same "little bird" nickname that the queen used to use).
- Spider-Man (PS4): Otto Octavius clearly sees Peter as a surrogate son figure and even throws this fact in his face after he goes insane and becomes Dr. Octopus. For his part, Peter saw Otto as a mentor and father figure, and is left devastated by his descent into villainy.
- In Far Cry 4, as the son of his former lover Pagan Min sees Ajay Ghale in this light, even despite the fact that his father was the founder of the local resistance movement and the man who killed his actual daughter. Despite the fact that Ajay ends up tearing through the entirety of Kyrat and dismantling his empire when confronted at the end Pagan is still willing to help him settle his personal affairs and pronounce him the new ruler of Kyrat.
- It is revealed in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV that Lianne Sandlot has always treated Rean as her son who she watched from afar since Rean's biological father is the reincarnation of the legendary hero Dreichels, who is also Lianne's Love Interest.
- Fate/Grand Order:
- Charles Babbage and James Moriarty see Frankenstein's Monster as their "daughter".
- Vlad III from Fate/Apocrypha becomes sort of an uncle-figure to the young Elisabeth Báthory.
- Due to Mash being fused with Galahad, Lancelot sees her as his child, even if it embarrasses him a bit.
- Due to her Madness Enhancement, Minamoto-no-Raikou views The Protagonist as her child...and she cannot distinguish maternal love from romantic love. She also is Sakata Kintoki's foster mother.
- When achieving her final Ascension and having her True Name unlocked, Tomoe Gozen comments that her husband would have get along with The Protagonist as if they were parent and child.
- During Hessian Lobo's Interlude, Lobo eventually realizes that the protagonist is like a child to him.
- To some degree, Helena Blavatsky acts a bit like a grandmother towards the protagonist.
- In Back To Nature, this would happen between Duke and Cliff if the player decides to invite the latter to help out in the Fall Wine Harvest. Duke would be so impressed with Cliff's work, he'd offer a full-time job at the Winery. Duke would eventually say that he considers Cliff a family, and he and Manna would be present at Cliff's wedding.
- In their final exchange during the climax of Mass Effect 3, Admiral David Anderson refers to Commander Shepard as "son/child" and tells them "you did good" as he lies dying.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Home Movies:
- Coach McGuirk says Eddie is "like the son I never had... or don't know about."
- Coach McGuirk's relationship with Brendon varies between being an Inter Generational Friendship to being somewhat like father and son. McGuirk even becomes noticeably jealous of Brendon's relationship with his actual father for much of season two.
- In the Spongebob Squarepants episode "Frankendoodle", Spongebob says this about his creation, Doodlebob.
Mr. Krabs: SpongeBob! Oh, you were like an underpaid son to me.
- Despite being an employer, Mr. Krabs has said this about SpongeBob. In The Spongebob Movie Sponge Out Of Water, Mr. Krabs is heartbroken when it seems like SpongeBob has betrayed him for Plankton.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Word of God says that even though Pinkie Pie isn't their daughter, Mr. & Mrs. Cake treat her as such. In fact, their actual foals, Pound Cake & Pumpkin Cake, see her as their funny older sister.
- In Motorcity, Kane saw Mike Chilton like a son, back when Mike worked for him, and hoped that he would be Kanes successor. He was deeply upset by Mikes MookFace Turn and outright says this during the finale before throwing him off a building dozens of stories tall.
- In one episode of Hey Arnold!, Arnold makes friends with a baseball-loving millionaire who says he is "like the son he never had." Then Arnold finds out the man actually does have a son, and spends the rest of the episode trying to help the two of them find a way to connect with each other.
- In Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, the mayor tells both Brent and Flint that they're like sons to him, but it is clear he's being insincere in both instances.
"And without further ado, our town's hero and my metaphorical son, Flint Lockwood!"
- Clone High
Glenn the Janitor: Ponce was like a son to me, probably because he was my foster son.
- Phineas and Ferb: Doofenshmirtz's dad had a dog named Only Son that he considered like the son he never had, despite the fact that he already had a son (and would later have another).
- In Dora the Explorer, the Marquez family treats Boots like one of their own, although Boots has two loving parents.
- Carl almost says this to Meatwad on Aqua Teen Hunger Force while trying to get his ticket to the Super Bowl, but reconsiders mid-sentence, resulting in:
"Ever since my son was...never conceived because I never had consensual sex without money involved, I've looked at you as a... a thing I could live next door to, in accordance with state law. Now are we going to the Super Bowl or not?"
- Danny Phantom: Vlad Plasmius, once he discovered Danny's ghost powers, wanted Danny to be his son. However, Danny refused since Vlad wanted to kill Danny's biological father and marry his mother. Even more of a subversion when Danny destroys his chances of creating a Danny clone and continually fights him. It gets to a point in the show when he stops pursuing him and wants to make his life miserable and maybe kill him. He also tried to take Danny's sister Jazz in at one point. That didn't work out too well, either.
- In the first episode of Dilbert, the CEO is firing an employee:
CEO: Bob, you're like a son to me.
Bob: You don't have a son.
CEO: That's where I'm headed here.
- Steven Universe: In "Dewey Wins", Mayor Dewey expresses his gratitude to Steven by calling him "the son I never had."
Steven: You... have a son.
Dewey: I know that! You're just very different from him, is all.
- Léon Degrelle was a Belgian fascist who joined the Waffen-SS during World War II. After the war, he claimed that Adolf Hitler said to him "If I had a son, I wish he'd resemble you" during one of their conversations. The veracity of this is still debated.
- Napoléon Bonaparte tended to see his brothers (even his elder brother Joseph, at times) and younger friends like Marmont or Junot in this way. He took care of their advancement (sometimes against their will) and their marriages (again, sometimes against their will), expecting that they would repay him at least with gratitude. Not all of them did.
- Marquis de Lafayette to George Washington. When Lafayette was wounded during the Battle of Brandywine River, attempting to rally the troops, Washington told the surgeons to treat him "as if he were my own son." Lafayette would later name his son George Washington de Lafayette.
- The Islamic warlord Timur the Lame had friendly relationships with the Catholic monarch Henry III of Castile and its reported by one of his ambassadors that he regarded him as one of his own sons.
- During the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries, former US Vice President Joe Biden said that fellow 2020 candidate Pete Buttigieg reminded him of his late son Beau.